Blood Donor Stories

Blood Donor Stories

Tim Baird
Anthon, IA


Twenty four gallon donor Tim Baird is a regular in the Sioux City Donor Center. His specialty? Liquid gold – platelets.

“I’ve always given. I’d give so so,” Tim explained. “It wasn’t a regular basis, and then 9/11 took place. My daughter said ‘Let’s go give blood.’ They took the blood. In the little pouch that’s next to it, before they could even put the tube on it, it had clotted. They said ‘You probably shouldn’t be giving whole blood. You should be giving platelets.’”

Like clockwork, Tim gives platelets about once a month and has done so for more than a decade. At first it was something good to do to give back. Then it became personal.

“My granddaughter was born – stillborn,” Tim said. “They worked on her for about nine minutes before she became stable. They had to give her blood products – a lot. And I saw what it did for her. When you have somebody that you know, it just helps you to continue to do it.”

Besides one of Sioux City’s regular platelet donors, Tim is known as the Santa Donor. Every December during his appointment, he comes in wearing a familiar red suit, handing out candy canes to LifeServe team members and fellow blood donors.

“I just go to different organizations. It’s just fun!” Tim said, his eyes as bright as those of St. Nick himself. “They take pictures and show their children. They have people that are giving whole blood and they want a picture, and they’ll come over and stand next to me while I’m still giving.”

Saving lives while making sure every gets an extra festive dose of that Christmas cheer.

Stephen Hartwell
Clear Lake, IA
14 Gallon Donor

As an O- blood donor, Stephen Hartwell always knew his donations were vital to the blood supply. He started donating after his time in the Army and continued to make his lifesaving gifts through the years, always enjoying his experience in the donor chair and especially the cookies afterward.

In 2017, blood donation turned the tables on Stephen and saved his life. A routine pre-donation screening at LifeServe’s Mason City Donor Center revealed frequent and significant skipped heartbeats. The screener urged Stephen to see a doctor as soon as possible. 

He followed that advice and was referred to the hospital for testing, which revealed a heart issue requiring the implantation of a pacemaker. “My cardiologist said without that rapid intervention and procedure,” Stephen explained, “I wouldn’t have been around to see my oldest grandson graduate from high school that May.”

Today Stephen is thankful for the lives he’s saved and that his life was saved through blood donation. “I’ve always been on the donor side of the equation, but the staff at LifeServe Blood Center can add me to the count of lives saved through the services they provide,” Stephen said. “I went to Colorado to be there for my grandson’s graduation, I had a beautiful summer with my family, and I was especially proud in October when I returned to the Mason City LifeServe Donor Center and was able to make another double-red donation. Life is good!”

Cindy Collingwood
Des Moines, IA

  2 Gallon Donor

It’s the good feeling you get post-donation that LifeServe blood donor and volunteer Cindy credits with keeping her dedication to the blood donation cause going strong. “It was always nice knowing that I was helping someone,” she said of her life-saving habit.

Cindy never imagined that “someone” would be her mom. Cindy’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and received blood transfusions that always boosted her energy during her hospitalizations. “You could see the color return in her skin,” Cindy explained. “She would have an appetite, and most importantly it gave us another day with her.” 

Sadly, Cindy’s mother lost her battle with cancer. As she mourned, Cindy knew there was a big way she could continue to celebrate her mother’s life. “I was so grateful, knowing the blood supply was available when she needed it most,” Cindy said. “I donate for those that are in need, and of course, I donate in memory of my mother.”  

Tim Seaman
Sioux City, IA
 5 Gallon Donor

Blood donation runs through the veins of KCAU 9 News Anchor Tim Seaman’s family. It was his father, a multi-gallon donor, who motivated Tim to start saving lives. “I always had known how important it was and heard him talk about it often,” Tim said. Now he keeps a regular double red cell donation appointment.

Besides saving lives, Tim’s favorite part of donating blood is the LifeServe team. “The staff is so professional,” he said. “They really know their jobs and go out of their way to make it a good experience for you.  It’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re glad you’re here because we need you.’ It’s ‘Hey, we haven’t seen you in a while! Glad to see you!'”

Dan Wright
Cumming, IA

 34 Gallon Donor

Dan began his blood donation career like many other donors, giving whole blood once or twice a year.  But the more he donated and learned about the importance of giving blood, the more he felt the need to help.  “Donating blood is easy for me to do and I know that there are so many people who I can help, it just seems like the right thing to do,” says Dan. 

Dan is now an apheresis platelet donor and donates every month.  In fact, it was through his frequent blood donations that he met his wife!  Their motto has become “save lives and make a love connection!”


Steve Thomas
Cherokee, IA

 17 Gallon Donor

Personal experience with a life and death situation motivated Steve Thomas to become not just a blood donor himself, but a blood drive advocate.

Steve’s wife Lori had an emergency during the birth of their third child. She received over ten units of blood. “At the time I was so grateful for the fact that her life was virtually saved that I became dedicated to giving blood for the rest of my life,” Steve said. “I wanted to pay it back.” 

Now his company, RJ Thomas Manufacturing, hosts blood drives for employees every 56 days, where he adds on to his own donation record. “It’s a great cause and I enjoy it! Physically, mentally, emotionally: it just makes me feel better.”

Paul Menzel
Des Moines, IA

Paul-Menzel for web

 127 Gallon Donor

What else can you do that allows you to give life to another person? This simple question is what motivates Paul Menzel to be an aphaeresis platelet donor. “I believe in the importance of giving blood and helping others,” says Paul.

As a committed donor, Paul donates platelets every two weeks. Paul knows that his selfless gift helps someone in his community. Paul’s commitment to blood donation has led him to become the top gallon milestone donor in LifeServe Blood Center’s collection area where he personally helps hundreds of hospital patients each and every year.

Howard Berkenbosch
Ankeny, IA

Howard-Berkenbosch-for-Web87 Gallon Donor

Blood donors share a common commitment, the desire to help someone in need.  Howard’s commitment to saving lives is evident by the number of gallons of blood he has donated throughout his lifetime.  His donations provide the gift of life to someone he will probably never meet. “You just never know if you’ll be the one to need blood at some point in time.  I’ve been fortunate to be healthy and able to donate and I just believe it is the right thing to do to help others.”

Kathy Denny
Clive, IA

Kathy-Denny-for-Web 54 Gallon Donor

Lifetime donors, like Kathy Denny, share a strong belief in community service, personal responsibility and the importance of helping others.  Kathy’s commitment to blood donation began as an act of honor and memory of her late brother who died three short months after being diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager.  Kathy saw the need and importance of donated blood during her brother’s illness and has continued her lifelong habit of giving blood by donating whole blood and/or platelets on a regular basis.

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